How Cool Are You?
My co-founder Christine Sperber is effortlessly cool. Commonly branded a “lovely badass” during our end-of-the-week workshop appreciation ceremonies, Christine has the street cred of being a former professional snowboarder turned Baja hospitality guru. She’s MEA’s Chief Experience Officer. Yes, there was a reason I hired her to throw my week-long 55th birthday party in El Pescadero in 2015.
And, of course, my other co-founder Jeff Hamaoui sets the standard for cool by being so warm.
Recently, the three of us were intellectually jousting at one of our weekly founder’s meetings. I was proclaiming that I didn’t want MEA to become too hipster, and they snickered that this protest was coming from someone who was a founding board member of the Burning Man non-profit. Okay, I’ll admit that Chip can be hip at times.
But, having founded a boutique hotel company just after Studio 54 impresario Ian Schrager did, I loathed the idea of creating a “behind the velvet rope” kind of hospitality experience. And, at Airbnb, it was hard to see Chipster as a hipster. I was more of an old geezer.
Soon, after my joust with my beloved co-founders, Christine slipped me this Bustle article on “15 Traits of People Who Are Effortlessly Cool.” I guess it was her way of saying, “cool is cooler than hip.”
The article states: “These people are wildly different, and yet they can all be considered cool because they project something special — a certain je ne sais quoi — that makes them stand out.” My hotel company was called “Joie de Vivre,” so I felt I might have a chance since knowing French seemed to be a prerequisite.
I thought it would be a fun idea to look at the 15 traits and see how I stacked up. Here’s what I came up with:
- Cool People Put Everyone Else at Ease. Any Forrest Gump goofball can do that. Check.
- They Bring Their Own Energy. Bad energy is just as contagious as good, so I’m not sure I concur with this one, but since I’m a bit of a lightbulb, I’ll give myself a point.
- They Don’t Apologize For Being Themselves. Geez, I’ve never thought Donald Trump was cool, but maybe he qualifies based upon this trait. Being a half-wit and an occasional apologizer, I’ll give myself just a half-point.
- They’re Independent. Yes sirree, that is me. A point.
- They’re Rarely Fazed. I wish this said “Rarely Faded”—I don’t fade easily, but between stimulus and response, I do faze occasionally, so half a point here.
- They Aren’t Afraid To Try New Things. That’s the MEA mantra. One point.
- They Don’t Try To Impress Anyone. Okay, truth be told, I’m a recovering admiration addict. Notice the adverb (“recovering”) not past tense (“recovered”). Progress, not perfection. Just the same, I’m going to harshly give myself a zero here.
- They Have A Natural Swagger. I’m a natural swigger. I’ll take a swig of anything…and then I’ll stagger. But, once again, I don’t have a Trumpian swagger, but I am pretty natural, so half a point.
- They Have Hobbies They Care About. Hobby is such an uncool word, right? I do have interests that I love (though I wouldn’t call them hobbies)—film festivals, philosophy books, folk art, getting naked at hot springs. I’ll give myself a point.
- They Aren’t Judgmental. Bingo. I always feel pumped up when Christine marvels at my lack of judgment. Even my partner Oren, who knows all my faults, agrees I deserve a point here.
- They Make Even The Most Mundane Moments Fun. The more mundane, the weirder I get. Oren would suggest that’s one of my faults, but it seems to be an asset here.
- They’re Down For Deep Convos. Duh. Hanging around MEA means your feet don’t touch the bottom. I want to live a life that’s as deep as it is long. +1.
- They’re Always Learning. Not only is that true, but Jeff coined a new phrase to describe MEA: “long life learning” to create better life living. Yes!
- They Look For Ways To Connect. They saved the best for last, didn’t they?! I’ve been called a social alchemist, a mixologist of people. Another cool point for me.
- They’re Authentic. I’ve always appreciated the bon mots that came from the ultimate dandy Oscar Wilde, including, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” I would have scored myself a zero in my adolescence, but in my middlescence, I get a point.
How did I do? I scored 12.5 out of 15 which equates to 83.3%. I’d grade myself a solid B, especially on a curve (if I’m competing with Christine and Jeff—the Queen and King of Cool). The truth is, I don’t mind being the Court Jester of Cool in our little empire. But, you know who’s really cool? Our surfer, guitarist, and gentlemanly chef, the incomparable Tony. He radiates cool. But, we’ll save that bit of coolness for another day.